Immediate action may minimise long-term effects and even prevent death
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain becomes blocked or ruptures. When this happens, a part of the brain dies as it becomes starved of blood and oxygen.
A stroke is one of the most debilitating, devastating experiences. It often leaves patients paralysed and mentally numb, and their lives are changed forever. However, medical advances now allow for early stroke detection, better management, and better outcomes.
As we mark World Stroke Awareness Week from 28 October to 3 November 2022, it is essential to learn to spot the signs of a stroke. To empower ourselves to assist a stroke patient to get to a hospital as quickly as possible and maybe save a life.
“Fast, coordinated stroke care and specialised rehabilitation by dedicated stroke teams can minimise stroke complications and reduce the chances of severe disability,” says Life Healthcare’s Dr Karisha Quarrie, Regional Clinical Manager. “Minutes matter. If we identify the signs of a stroke early, and get medical attention fast, the effect of a stroke can be managed better, brain function can be saved, and patients may be able to return to a normal, fulfilling life.”
The most effective way of identifying a stroke is the F.A.S.T method.
- Face Ask the person to smile or show their teeth. Does one side of their face droop?
- Arms Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
- Time If you see any of these signs, call for medical help as quickly as possible.
Once a stroke patient reaches the hospital, coordinated care by medical experts can ensure the best possible outcomes.
For instance, at Life Healthcare Rehabilitation units, the Stroke Restore programme is used to assess patients who have suffered a stroke to create individual treatment plans across the continuum of care.
The Life Stroke Restore programme starts the minute the patient arrives at the hospital with rapid triage and radiological investigation in the emergency unit to ensure the most appropriate treatment. The programme follows with medical stabilisation and intervention by a multi-disciplinary team of trained professionals who meet regularly to coordinate the care of the stroke survivor. This also includes access to the Life Rehabilitation units for comprehensive stroke rehabilitation.
Outcomes are then reviewed weekly by the entire rehabilitation team to measure patient progress to manage recovery and the eventual discharge process.
“If you suspect someone may be having a stroke, use the F.A.S.T method to identify any likely symptoms, then get them to a healthcare professional as quickly as possible,” says Dr Quarrie. “With fast response and the right care, a stroke can be better managed.”